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Dáil debates

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

3:00 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Question 11: To ask the Minister for Defence if the armed forces will be participating in conflict resolution and counter terrorism cooperation activities during the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6735/12]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, is the world's largest regional security organisation comprised of 56 states from Europe, Central Asia and North America. The OSCE offers a forum for political negotiations and decision-making in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. It puts the political will of its participating states into practice through its unique network of field missions.

Ireland assumed chairmanship of the OSCE in January 2012, for a period of one year. It is Ireland's first time to assume this role, and the chairmanship provides Ireland with an opportunity to project its foreign policy values onto the international stage. It is also an opportunity for Ireland to further the goals of the organisation.

A total of eight Defence Forces personnel are involved in OSCE matters during Ireland's chairmanship this year. An Irish officer has recently been appointed as head of the OSCE high-level planning group in Vienna for the period from 1 January until 31 December 2012. The high-level planning group is mandated to make recommendations to the OSCE chairperson in office on the development of a plan for the establishment, force structure requirements and operation of a multinational OSCE peace-keeping force for the area of conflict dealt with by the OSCE Minsk conference on Nagorno-Karabakh. Another Defence Forces officer serves as a staff officer to the high-level planning group.

A total of three Defence Forces personnel are also currently deployed to OSCE missions. Two officers are deployed to the OSCE mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one officer is deployed to the OSCE mission to Serbia in Belgrade. One Defence Forces officer continues to act as military adviser to the permanent mission of Ireland to the OSCE in Vienna. Two additional Defence Forces officers have also been deployed to Vienna to support the permanent mission during Ireland's chairmanship.

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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This is a wonderful opportunity for this country to have the OSCE presidency. Is there a budgetary commitment on the part of the Defence Forces to the presidency in excess of our usual commitment to the OSCE? In terms of the ongoing presidency of the OSCE, are the eight personnel specifically in place for this year or is there an ongoing commitment to the organisation on the part of the Defence Forces?

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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I do not have the figure for the exact budgetary amount but from what I recollect it is extremely modest. I will give the Deputy the exact figure. Clearly some members of the Defence Forces are playing a role that arises because we have the chairmanship. The numbers may change when we get to 2013. The numbers I have supplied to the Deputy relate to operations this year. He may see in one of the examples I gave that one officer will be chairing a particular group that would normally be chaired by the country chairing the OSCE.